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Question
My family had a 2 year old Holland Lop, who loved to be held and cuddled.  We bought her from a breeder when she was 8weeks old.  We kept her in a large wood condo,home built, with a bedroom and sitting area on the top floor and litterbox with play area on the bottom floor.  Her cage was outside, underneath our covered deck, for protection from weather and sun.  This morning my daughter and I went out to feed the bunny and clean her cage and we found her dead in her bed, with some kind of red mass coming out of her rear end, and blood on her bottom and in her bed.  I'm not sure if the mass was from her genital area or bottom, but it was about the size of a quarter in diameter, and round in shape, much like a ball.  Two days ago we had the bunny in the house for some exercise.  She seemed fine then, and didn't have any legions on her bottom, but she did smell like urine.  I had noticed that her litterbox seemed to have more urine in it than usual for the last couple of weeks, but she was eating and drinking the same as always.  I had my daughter clean the Bunnys bottom with soap and water to take away the smell, then we but her back in her cage, and she seemed fine.  Do you have any idea what might have caused her to die?

Answer
Dear Marci

I am very sorry about the loss of your bunny.  This is one reason that we at the House Rabbit Society recommend that bunnies not be housed outdoors, as it is much more difficult to monitor health when the bunny is not inside, interacting with the family.  By the time a problem is discovered, it is often too late.  I am sorry you had to learn this the hard way.

Without seeing your bunny or the problem, it is impossible for me to know the cause of death.  A bloody mass coming out of her nether regions could have been anything from a prolapsed uterus to a tumor to a prolapsed rectum.  it is also not impossible that a predator, such as a raccoon, was able to grasp the bunny's rear end through the wire of the cage and pull until fatal harm was done.  This would not be the first time I've heard of this happening, and it is one of the most important reason to keep your bunny inside, especially at night.

Only a necropsy would give more insight into the cause of death, since there are so many possibilities.

I am very sorry for your loss.

Dana  

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Dana Krempels, Ph.D.

Expertise

I've lived with companion rabbits for more than 35 years, and consider them members of my family. I can answer any questions about the biology and health of rabbits, from the commonplace to the unusual. But please note:

RULE #1:
THE INTERNET IS NOT THE PLACE TO SEEK HELP IN AN EMERGENCY.

...it is an EMERGENCY.

Find a rabbit vet at www.rabbit.org/vet for immediate help, and don't risk your bunny's life by spending time asking questions online! If you can't get in touch with your vet, read these Emergency Sick Bunny Instructions.

If you have found a wild baby rabbit, please read these EMERGENCY INSTRUCTIONS FOR WILD BABY RABBITS and then use this link to FIND A LOCAL WILDLIFE REHABILITATOR who can give you the right advice.


RULE #2:
Help me help you! Please make your subject line informative if you have an urgent question. then LET ME KNOW IN THE SUBJECT LINE so I can give your question highest priority over non-urgent questions. If you don't do this, then I can't guarantee timely assistance!

For all the best, most accurate rabbit health, care and behavior information, visit The House Rabbit Society.

Experience

I have been rescuing and rehabilitating domestic and wild rabbits for about 30 years. I have written articles for many rabbit rescue publications, as well as for the veterinary journal, Exotic DVM. I own EtherBun, the internet's largest listserve dedicated to health, care, and behavior of domestic rabbits.

Organizations
Houserabbit Adoption, Rescue, and Education, Inc. (H.A.R.E., Inc.) president National House Rabbit Society (Board member)

Publications
Exotic DVM
Warren Peace (Journal of the House Rabbit Society of Miami)
Various newsletters of the House Rabbit Society, nationwide

Education/Credentials
Ph.D - Biology
B.S. - Biology
B.A. - English

Awards and Honors
Lightspan Academic Excellence Award for web site on rabbit health and biology
(http://www.bio.miami.edu/hare)

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